The diet dessert

We’ve developed a loose routine for our family. We get together with Adam’s parents on Fridays for cards. Over the past month, we’ve added a meal to it and started taking turns hosting.

This has occurred at the same time as three of us are on diets (though of various levels of seriousness and commitment). As it works out, the fourth is also the odd one out anyway (Adam’s pescetarianism usually gives him a different main, and his dislike for sweet things usually leaves him out of dessert).

I have taken this as a challenge. My general goal is to do a healthy, low-fat main and a dessert that is a lower calorie/sugar/fat thing but still tastes like it isn’t.

The first try was a sort of lemon posset/fool thing that worked really well, but it was a bit sharp. I’ll have to try that one again before posting a recipe, I think.

For last night’s try, I documented it just in case it came off right. It worked great, so here you go… a fairly not bad for you hazelnut cheesecake tiramisu sort of thing.

An introductory note: I made it with two layers, but it would probably be better served by doing it with one thicker layer. It was just a bit more sponge-heavy than I really wanted, so it’s a matter of taste.

These amounts made for a dessert that ended up as 4 servings.

Ingredients

The ingredients I used:

  • Hazelnut liqueur (ours is some own brand thing I picked up at Aldi before Christmas)
  • Hazelnut syrup (the sort you use for coffee, which I get at Costco or Makro, but is usually available from most coffee chains)
  • Plain ol’ sugar
  • Stevia sweetener (I found Pure Via sachets on offer at Morrisons)
  • Fromage frais
  • Reduced fat cream cheese
  • Roasted and chopped hazelnuts
  • Whole hazelnuts
  • Sponge fingers

Step one

The assembly, step one:

I poured around 3 tablespoons of the liqueur and 1 tablespoon of the syrup into a bowl, then dunked the sponge fingers into the liquid mix.  I prefer the fingers to have a bit of tooth to them, so it was a quick in-and-out dunk on each side.

I layered the dunked fingers along the bottom of my dish. (In this case, it was a 6-inch-ish square plastic container.)

Step two

The assembly, step 2:

I combined about 1/3rd the pack of cream cheese (about 4 tablespoons), around 6 tablespoons of fromage frais, 1 teaspoon of sugar, 1 tablespoon of syrup, and 2 stevia sachets in a bowl. I whisked everything until it was well blended and creamy.

I then stirred in about 2 tablespoons of chopped hazelnuts and then spread the mix evenly over the sponge finger layer.

Step three

I then repeated steps one and two, with my second cream layer only including half measures of the cream cheese, fromage frais, and syrup, with the other ingredients left out. My second sponge layer used up the remaining liquids from the first round of dunking.

Doing this made the dessert a bit taller, but (as I mentioned) fairly sponge-heavy. It could also work to combine the two cream layers into one and cut out the second layer of sponges.

I used the whole hazelnuts to decorate the top, then put the whole thing in the fridge, covered, for a few hours to set.

Finished!

So there it is!

One thing I will add as a final note, it could probably be made without the stevia (using a bit more sugar), but I’m getting really experimental with the sugar/stevia combination.

I think it gives a more rounded sweetness, with the sugar giving the front-of-mouth sweetness you’re used to and the stevia giving more of a side- and back-of-mouth sweetness that is a bit lighter and more unusual.

The combined effect is one that gives a sweeter sensation without the syrupy quality that a similar sweetness level using just sugar tends to have.

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